Kobe Bryant's Divorce Will Cause Fans to Be 'Cruel,' Says Charles Barkley

12/22/2011 at 03:15 PM EST

Kobe Bryant Divorce: Charles Barkley Says Fans Will Be 'Cruel'
Charles Barkley and Kobe Bryant
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic, Billy Ingram/WireImage
Kobe Bryant may be going through a tough separation from Vanessa Bryant, his wife of a decade, but don't expect his fans to be sympathetic, says retired NBA star Charles Barkley.

"I really like Kobe; I wish him all the best," Barkley, 48, said Tuesday on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "But of course the fans are cruel. They're going to be shouting stuff at him. He's going to have to deal with that."

The tartness, Leno points out, could stem from Bryant's alleged infidelities.

"That's never good for a team," Barkley says of the gossip. "I'm just telling you, that's never positive."

Regardless of fan taunting or the end of his marriage, Bryant, 33, will survive, the NBA Hall of Famer says.

"He's so strong, mentally," Barkley says. "I think he'll be fine."

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